The RPK-74 Light Machine Gun Is Far Deadlier

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The RPK-74 Light Machine Gun Is Far Deadlier
RPK-74 (photo: https://www.youtube.com/c/MilitaryTVOfficial/)

The Light Machine Gun Is Far Deadlier – The RPK is in Russian called “Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova” which is in English means “ hand-held machine gun”. This is a Soviet 7.62×39mm light gun, developed by Mikhail Kalashnikov in the early 1960s, in parallel with the AKM assault rifle. It was made to standardize the small arms inventory of the Soviet Army, where it changed the 7.62×39mm RPD light machine gun. The RPK continues to be used by the armed forces of countries of the former Soviet Union and certain African and Asian nations.

In regard to its operating mechanism, the RPK functions identically to the AK-47. It also uses the same 7.62×39mm ammunition and perform a similar design layout to the Kalashnikov series of rifles, with modifications to increase the RPK's effective range and accuracy, enhance its sustained fire capability, and strengthen the receiver. Furthermore, the RPK-74 also uses a longer and heavier chrome-plated barrel, which has a new gas block with a gas channel at a 90° angle to the bore axis, and a ring for the cleaning rod. This gun is also equipped with a folding bipod and a different front sight tower. The muzzle is threaded for a flash suppressor or blank-firing device. Additionally, the RPK-74 has a modified return mechanism compared to the , which uses a new type of metal spring guide rod and recoil spring. The rear sight assembly, forward handguard and receiver dust cover were all retained from the RPK.

Talking about its specification, the RPK-74 has a weight of 4,7 kg with the length of 1,060 mm including barrel length of 590 mm, with its Bullet muzzle velocity of 960 m/sec. Its rate of fire constitute to 600 rds/min with the effective rate of fire includes 40/150 rds/min and the sighting range of 1,000 m and its magazine capacity of 45 rds.

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Moreover, the ammunition feed is from a 45-round double-column chequerwise curved box plastic magazine. There is a special device for loading a magazine from a clip. Interestingly, the RPK-74 and the RPKS-74 are only fed from box magazines, as the drum magazine option was eliminated for budget concerns. It is worth mentioning that the USSR was the first to standardise squad-platoon-level small arms of both standard and small calibre. This process was facilitated by the high reliability and the modernisation potential, inherent in the Kalashnikov design.

If we take a closer look, the RPK-74 is a gas-operated weapon that can fire semi-automatic and automatically. Its heavy chrome-lined barrel can't be replaced limiting its sustained rate of fire. The RPK fires from a closed, rotating bolt. Many parts are interchangeable with the AK-74 assault rifle. This weapon its rugged, reliable, simple to operate and to maintain. This light machine gun does not jam or misfires in worst conditions possible. If it jams, stoppages are easy to fix. Without the use of any tools, this weapon may be field stripped in about a minute.

Despite its advantages, the RPK-74 falls in terms of range and accuracy when compared to Western weaponry. This squad automatic weapon is poorly balanced. A combined safety and fire mode selector switch lock the bolt group and the trigger in the “safe” position. Various drum magazines were tested, including one holding 100 rounds, but were not adopted. The RPK-74 can also use standard 30-round box magazines from the AK-74 assault rifle and vice versa, in which the AK-74 accepts magazines of the RPK-74.

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In relation to the types, the RPK-74 consist of several variants including: The . It is equipped with a left side rail to mount a night vision sight with the letter “N” in the designation, that stands for “night”. This version also depends on the model of a night sight, in which it also has some other versions, including the RPK-74N1 which is fitted with the NSPU (1PN34) sight, RPK-74N2, fitted with the NSPUM (1PN58) sight, and RPK-74N3, fitted with the NSPU-3. The light machine gun can also be equipped with the NSPU-5-night sight. The latter has a magnification of 3.5-fold and is able to detect a man at a range of up to 300 m. Another option is the 1P29 versatile sight with a four-fold magnification and a weight of 0.8 kg. The area with low-intensity conflicts also saw the use of RPK-74N light machine guns fitted with optical instead of night sights, in which the loaded weight of the RPK-74N1 with the NSPU sight amounts to 7.66 kg.

The other general versions also include the RPKS-74. This is the version of the RPK-74 for paratrooper use with a side-folding stock and the letter “S” in the designation stands for “folding”. Followed by the RPKS-74N, which is the RPKS-74 modified to incorporate a side rail on the left side of the weapon for a night vision sight. The other one is RPK-74M. It is a modernized and improved version of the RPK-74. The letter “M” in the designation stands for “modernized”. It features black polymer furniture, making the weapon lighter. It also uses improved magazines. This light machine gun comes with a side-folding stock as standard. It is used by the Russian armed forces alongside the earlier versions of the RPK-74. Also, the RPKM, which is the export version of the RPK-74M chambered for 7.62×39 mm ammunition. The RPK-201 is also an export model of the RPK-74M chambered for a standard NATO 5.56×45 mm ammunition, which was actually developed to complement the AK-101 assault rifle. The last one is, the RPK-203. It is another export model of the RPK-74M chambered for 7.62×39 mm ammunition, which was developed to complement the AK-103 assault rifle.

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Lastly, the RPK-74 and its variants are in service with , former Soviet republics, and a number of foreign countries. Most importantly, this gun became the standard squad automatic weapon in service with the Soviet Army. For the information, East Germany, Poland, Yugoslavia, Libya, and Finland used to manufacture replicas of the Soviet RPK and RPK-74 light machine guns and their variants or develop their own models of Kalashnikov light machine guns.

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